WRITING FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS
by Marion Crook
In addition to the expert advice author Marion Crook shared in earlier editions of Writing for Children and Young Adults, in this vibrant new edition, Crook explains some of the nuances and choices about the writing world online. As well, she revisits the fundamentals of writing: establishing character, creating lively dialogue and developing plot with updated worksheets and examples. This edition shows the writer how to begin a story, plan plot, develop and hone the work for an agent or publisher, and how to make the crucial submission for a book that agents want to represent and publishers want to buy!
Writing for Children and Young Adults helps you create the manuscript that sells!
Telling stories is an ancient skill practiced in public at community festivals,around the campfire, in religious rites, and in private at the cradles of the young. It involves an innate ability to pick dramatic wordsin a way that paints a mental picture and gives the tale a sense of pace and tension. The story becomes important, even if only for a short time, to the one who hears it or reads it. It is a way of communicating excitement and the optimistic belief that the world is a remarkable and knowable place. Many writers have an enthusiastic following of readers who want to share in their adventures.
Telling stories is also an age-old method of communicating morality lessons to ensure that a point of view spreads in a palatable manner. Writing can be a way of instructing, advising, and guiding others. Most children don’t want to read stories that are written with such motivation, but many writers believe that teaching justifies their stories. A “moral” story isn’t necessarily a good story. The danger in writing morality tales is that the writer may ignore the needs of children and write from behind a screen of righteousness that thinly hides a lecture. As you may remember from your school years, most of us hate lectures.
Stories also offer an illusion of control as if the world can be controlled by the way we interpret it. Most writers offer stories that have beginnings, middles, and ends describing life as neatly compacted andlogical. Perhaps this illusion of controlled life gives readers a sense of order.
You want to write a book that will delight many years later. You want your book to be the best you can produce, written in a style that is uniquely yours, perhaps using ideas that have never been written about or in a format that has never been tried. Writing is about creating.
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As a writer, I found this book full of useful advice, not just for the writing process but for publishing and maintaining good mental health. Many craft books I’ve read, unless only about making/finding time to write, gloss over the vastly different personality types authors have. Crook explains the importance of finding time to write but also dives into the important concept of making sure the writing mind is healthy and engaged with the world.
In terms of mindset, Crook doesn’t stop here. A good portion of the book is dedicated, as the title suggests, to understanding the child and young adult mind. Crook presents excellent suggestions for adult writers who wish to get into the heads of their characters. The important distinction between knowing young adults and understanding young adults is made. Crook’s suggestions are helpful and varied enough to work in many situations.
The most useful part of the book for me was the breakdown of the various readerships in juvenile literature. From picture books to new adult (and everything in-between), Crook defines what is expected for each level and age range, what kinds of words and sentence structures to use, and what subject matter is appropriate. This portion of the book is an excellent reference that can be gone back to time and time again.
Overall book rating: 4 of 5. If you have any interest in writing for young people, this is the book to read.
Marion Crook has written many books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Here, she offers advice on writing, publishing, and marketing. Crook’s background in child development education as a nurse and her Ph.D. in education give her solid knowledge, but she maintains that a keen observation of people, places, and events can be the author’s most useful tool. An experienced teacher and writer, she gives her readers clear and practical tips, with humor and obvious understanding of what it’s like to write and publish.
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